BAFTA dismisses complaints about lack of diversity

Photo credit: Rex Features

From Digital Spy

BAFTA's chief executive has responded to rumblings about a lack of diversity in the 2017 movie nominations revealed earlier today (January 10).

Although criticism has come nowhere near that which greeted last year's 'Oscars whitewash', there has been some criticism of omissions from this year's British Academy Film Awards list.

In particular, after getting an acting nomination at the Golden Globes, Fences' Denzel Washington misses out at the BAFTAs - and the two-time Oscar winner has still never received a single BAFTA nomination.

However, his co-star Viola Davis - who won a Best Supporting gong at the Globes - is nominated this year.

Also notably missing from the nominations is Barry Jenkins in the Best Director category, although his movie Moonlight is up for Best Film, Original Screenplay and acting awards (for Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris).

Addressing comments about a lack of diversity, BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry told Deadline: "Everyone looks for the snubs and I want to remind people about the strong films. Let's not overshadow their achievements because they are exceptional.

"Barry Jenkins is nominated in Best Film and although not for Director, he is nominated for Original Screenplay. I do not feel Barry has been snubbed by BAFTA."

She added: "It's incredibly difficult when you're asked questions about why somebody hasn't been nominated. You would have to look at each year and say which one lead actor would you take out?"

Berry did, however, acknowledge that the lack of diversity in some areas is an issue, commenting: "The fact that there isn't diversity among the top acting categories shows there is still work to be done.

"But I don't want it to overshadow the fantastic nominations that are there," she went on, mentioning supporting nominations for Naomie Harris, Dev Patel, Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis.

She also addressed whether the BAFTAs leans towards British films, saying: "As a British Academy, we love it when Brits do well.

"Certain films like I, Daniel Blake are likely to do a lot better in the UK than in the US. because it's a very British film with British sensibilities."

Amid last year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Berry said BAFTA would take steps to increase diversity, commenting: "It would be inappropriate for me to say that we've done a better job than the Oscars [with diversity]."

And as for that #OscarsSoWhite campaign, its organisers have said the fight is far from over as 2017's ceremony approaches, with April Reign saying: "One year does not fix a problem that has been going on for over 80 years... with respect to marginalised communities, it's still been a relatively poor year.

"Where are the films that show the Latino or Latina experience? Where are the films that focus on the LGBTQIA community? There's still a lot of work to be done, despite the fact that we have some great films this year."

The EE British Academy Film Awards will be held on Sunday, February 12 at the Royal Albert Hall, with Stephen Fry returning as host.

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